Digital Debates

The Online Debate from a Civil Society Perspective


Digital Debate 9: Climate Justice and Digital Transformation

2 December 2021, 16:00 hrs. CET 

Scientists have proposed to call the current geological epoch to be the Anthropocene signifying the extent of human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, climate change. While there is debate on when exactly that epoch might have started there is consensus that the ongoing digital transformation of our economies and societies is part of it. The appropriate global response to achieve climate justice is seen as a transformation of the world economy, flicking the green switch and building a sustainable system driven by decarbonisation, renewable energy, green jobs and a sustainable agriculture that preserves the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity.

THE DEBATE: Only green business is good business

In today’s economy and society, the importance of digitally generated goods and services is ever increasing. And as global warming has been accelerating in recent years, and may soon reach a tipping point, the digital economy cannot claim not to be part of the problem. Hence the question arises how the digital transformation can become a part of the solution?

Server farms and bitcoin mining are known to consume large amounts of energy. Is switching to green energy doing the trick or do we need to ask more fundamental questions as regards the legitimacy and usefulness of digital technologies and products? The production of digital hardware, batteries for example, require primary materials and produces million tons of electronic waste.

Few in the civil society sector would dispute the opportunities the digital transformation might offer to support causes of social justice, to fight poverty and marginalisation, and other goals and values. But what strategy is required for the civil society sector to reconcile social and climate justice and to make turn the digital into a tool to promote climate justice?

Digital Debates: Event Series

Every month, this event series will provide inspiring discussions for the civil society sector based on the constant change that digitalisation brings to our societies. Each debate will be a call to action for CSOs to take a more active role in shaping our digital future.

Barbara Iverson will moderate each debate. She teaches Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Management at the CODE University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.

You can view all previous debates in our digital debate archive.

Digital Debate Panellists

  • Alfred Schumm
  • Director Innovations-Sciences, Technologies at WWF-Germany
  • Bio
  • Syed Kazi
  • Senior Advisor and Consultant at Digital Empowerment Foundation
  • Bio
  • Stefanie Kunkel
  • Researcher at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)
  • Bio

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Further Reading

Digitalisation and Sustainability Transformations

In this article Dr. Grischa Beier display the work of the research group "Digitalisation and Sustainability Transformations". The latter studies the impact of digitalisation on industry and the economy, along with how digitalisation can support the socio-ecological transformation of the economy.